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America 21, Us 15, Margaret Thatcher 12, Indiana 12, Feinstein 10, Boston 9, Minnesota 8, Washington 7, California 6, Britain 6, Thatcher 5, Colorado 5, Toomey 5, Newtown 5, Maryland 5, United States 4, Claude R. Lamm 4, Mr. Reid 4, Ronald Reagan 4, New York 4,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    April 16, 2013
    5:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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stepped on to the grounds of cleveland elementary school in stockton, california. he fired at least 106 bullets from an k-47 rifle across -- from an ak-47 rifle across the schoolyard. he killed five children ages 6 to 9, and one teacher, and he injured 29 other students before fatally shooting himself. this horrific crime led california to enact a assault weapons ban, and of course we know that assault weapons ban in california is still in place, and i so appreciate senator feinstein's leadership in trying to once again authorize at the federal level an assault weapons ban. now, californians still remember this tragedy in stockton just as the nation will always remember the victims of the horrific
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events of friday, december 14, 2012, at sandy hook elementary school. now i flash forward to from 1989 and the stockton tragedy to a law office in san francisco in 1993. where a crazed gunman -- i remember his name but i won't say it -- with an assault weapon killed eight people and wounded six. one of those people was a brave warrior who threw his body over the body of his wife, sacrificing his own life to save hers. now, that young man was one of my son's best friends, and i know personally how these horrific and senseless tragedies live on with the survivors. the parents, the spouses, the children, the family and the friends. it changes their lives and it pierces their hearts forever. so i've told you a couple of
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stories about california, but let me say this. let's look at what's happened across this nation since sandy hook. in the 120 days since sandy hook, more than 2,200 americans have been killed by gun violence. hardly anyplace was spared. now, we know there are many, many firearms in america. 300 million firearms in the united states. if you were to divide that up, that would be one gun per person. of course, there are many people who just have many, many guns. now, this is a 50% increase in the number of guns in circulation since 1995 when there were, as i say, about half the number.
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when i go home and i speak about this and i write about it, i say there are 31,000 reasons why we need to pass sensible gun laws. because 31,000, that's the number of people who die every year in america. that's 87 people every single day on average. and you look at this, 31,000 people dying every year from gun violence. and so how do you get a sense of what that is? and i think back to one of the reasons that i got into politics in the first place was the war in vietnam and trying to end it, first as an activist and then as an -- actually an elected leader in my county. and i think about how many people died in the ten-year war of vietnam, and it's a little bit more than 50,000 in a ten-year period, and it turned
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our country upside-down, upside-down. i have to tell you, i lived through it. generation against generation. it was a very, very tough time in this nation. people lost faith in the country. it was tough. and yet we have 31,000 people killed every year in america, and it's something we all kind of just say okay, that's terrible, but we don't do anything about it. but we are about to do something about it. that is very important, i think, and it may not be everything that i would want to do, given my history on this issue, but i will say if we can move forward with sensible background checks -- and i thank senators manchin and toomey so much, so much for their work on this -- and we can do something about
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straw purchasers and we can do something about making our schools safer which i am pleased to say i wrote the legislation that's in the underlying bill before us, we can do a few of these things, it would be a big step forward. do i want to see more done? yes. do i want to see the ban on scopes reinstated? i do. but i do feel we are at a point in time where we may be able to get something done that matters. now, i think we ought to look at mass shootings in the last 30 years. first of all, 40% of mass shootings have occurred since 2006, so if you go back 30 years, you see 40% took place since 2006. according to the "washington post," in 2012 alone, 175 people were killed or wounded from mass
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shootings. people who shouldn't get these weapons are getting these weapons. people with severe mental illness are getting these weapons. we know that. today we got to see in the democratic caucus lunch a heroine, someone who was unbelievable, gabby giffords, struggle with each step, with every word. why? what did she do? she held a town hall meeting so she could bring government to perry her people in the most personal of ways, and someone was very sick, access to weapons and the rest we know. and in the name of those who were lost, gabby giffords and her husband mark kelly have been just truth tellers. these people, mark and gabby, they are gun owners, proud gun
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owners. they are not coming from a different place, and yet they are standing for sensible gun laws and i'm so grateful to them for dedicating their lives to this and i'm so grateful to the parents of the children and all the victims of sandy hook for putting a human face on these numbers. 175, what does that mean? but if you saw the faces, you would know what it means, and sometimes the wounds as we see with gabby are so hard to deal with. we can make it harder for people who are criminals who have no right to have a gun. we can make it harder for them by making sure they have to undergo a background check. and today i learned from mark kelly, from the background checks that we already have, that's when people go to a
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regular retail store, we have stopped well over a million gun sales, well over. and yet we don't have that same system in place for gun shows or private sales. so joe manchin and senator toomey have been working together, and they have crafted a way to move toward a sensible background check. yes, protecting family members who want to give a gun to the next, but they have preserved, i think, the most important part of their bill, which is to simply make a uniform standard for a gun sale wherever you purchase your gun. you know, some of the strongest proponents of this are people who run retail stores who go through the laborious situation -- although it's pretty quick now -- of doing a background check, and yet somebody can go across the street to a gun show and make a
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deal and never be asked, and they could be a criminal, they could be mentally unbalanced, they could be a terrorist, okay? and still get a gun. now, i want to look at the issue of school shootings in america. the tragedy that took place at sandy hook is a tragedy that far too many of our nation's communities have faced in recent years, and we're going to hook at a chart that will show that since the year of columbine, 262 students, teachers and others have been killed or wounded in k-12 school shootings. people go to school. it's supposed to be a protected zone. who thinks about this? and look at how many people since columbine, and we swore we would never allow that to happen
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again. it's happening. so we have to do more. i can tell you this is just k-12, but if you look at america's colleges and universities in my own state, california, oakland university, in 2012, a former student returned to the campus, killed seven people and injured three. and we have these horrible, violent incidents in colleges and universities. now, school shootings are on the rise in america. i'm telling you. i have the numbers to show it. let's show it. the decades. we go back, 1979-1988. these are the number of incidents at schools. not the people killed but the number of school shootings. there were 27. these are just the k-12. this doesn't include the universities. k-12, 79-1988, 27 incidents.
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1989-1998, 55. 1999-2008, 66. this is a number we don't want to keep going up. and in so many of these cases, it could have been prevented. not saying every case, but certainly in some cases. and if we were able to do something about the magazine capacity here, that would have a big impact on the numbers as well. so we are moving up, and that's not a good number. now, the parents of the fallen children at sandy hook and my hometown, my home state have joined countless other parents who have lost their children in violent assaults on our nation's schools and colleges. they have joined with parents of colorado's columbine high school, colorado's santana high school, minnesota's westlake
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high school, virginia tech and so many others. the shooting at sandy hook is another reminder that we have failed our children. i mean, i don't know how to put it another way. i'm so sad about it. this topic is so heavy in my heart because i know that we can do some things to change it, and i believe we're on the brink of doing some things. not enough in my view, but some things to change it. and i could tell you, madam president, because you were there today, we had quite a caucus today. our colleagues who stood up, who have seen these tragedies in their states why beyond eloquent. our colleagues who are trying to do something that yes may be politically difficult. they're showing courage. it's one of those moments when
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you say i'm blessed to be here and i can do something about this. and i think more and more of our colleagues are beginning to realize this as they meet with the parents and they meet with colleagues and they sit down one on one. we have to keep our children safe. now, one of the pieces of legislation that is less troferl that are included in the base bill before us is the school and campus safety enhancement act that i authored with senator collins, senator warner and kirk. to help secure our nation's schools. you know, for years we had the very successful secure our schools program, and basically we build from that program and we make some changes to it that i think will make it better.
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what we say -- excuse me for a moment. i want to explain this to you the way it would work. what we say is if a local entity -- and this could be a police department, it could be a school district. if they feel they want to secure their schools, they will have to put some funds on the line at 50% of the funding, but we would supplement that funding by 50%, and we would help to pay for security-related improvements, capital improvements at the school plant. a lot of our schools are old. when they were built, no one thought five seconds about some of these issues. classroom lox, lighting,
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fencing, reinforced doors, security assessments, training for students and teachers and administrators, coordination with local law enforcement, so many things that we can do, but we know that our school districts and our local police departments are screched right now. so we want to help them pay for some of these things. perimeter fencing, for example, and cameras. you could see someone coming onto the campus and take action to either alert your school officers who may be there or your local police department to prepare. now, we have had a similar program in place since 2002 but the authorization expired in 2009. and in the past 5,500 schools have received these funds but the funds weren't even sufficient. 54% of the entities that applied for these grants were turned away. so we know this is a program
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that the schools like because they took advantage of it, but we ran out of funds. so we want to make sure we reauthorize this. in the past, programs like the one in the bill passed with a 307-1 vote in the house and the senate 95-0. so what we do is we reauthorize this safety in schools program for ten years, we increase the authorization to $40 million a year, we allow more flexibility, we don't say what you have to use it for. and, by the way, you don't use it for more cops in schools. that's another issue. it's not in this particular piece. it's something i care about want to work on. it is not in this bill. what is in this bill is making capital improvements to the facilities. it is not a one-size-fits-all. some people don't need a fence or a camera or a door. we leave it up to the schools.
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flexibility. and we also do something that senator warner really wanted to do. we created a department of justice and department of education task force to develop advisory school safety guidelines. we include language from senator grassley to ensure adequate grant accountability. so senator warner and senator kirk also wanted to create a national center for campus public safety which will serve as a clearing-house for education, training, and best practices. here's the thing -- some of our campuses really know how to do this and others don't. so we want to make sure there is a central place you can find out the best practices. i was going to just go through in closing, some of the ways these funds were actually used on the ground before this program expired. in sulfur spring, texas, the school district made up of nine
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schools they wanted to do a safety assessment and they were able to make that safety assessment so they knew what they had to do to make their schools safer. they helped -- when they did their study they found out they needed to replace older security equipment and technology, expand restricted we keyway system ems and place security levers on all doors which allowed teachers to lock tours doors from the inside. you may say that's not expensive. why do you need to spend money? it sure adds up when you really want to secure a door and you want to do it right. so if you have many, many doors so we can help them do these things. and if they wanted to, make sure they harden their facility, that's what the money is for. now, there's a township in new jersey, they used funds to secure perimeter and playground areas by installing security
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gates at elementary and intermediate schools to create a safer learning environment. the new exterior fences define school boundaries making the schools safer for students. entourier gates were replaced, providing the ability to lock off specific areas of the schools during emergencies. again, it's common sense but when these schools were built, madam president, no one thought about this. everything was open. like the capitol, when i came here, i'm dating myself, a long time ago, you could go anywhere. no metal detectors, no fences. walk up the steps to the capitol we have lost a lot of that freedom and our world is now to balance our freedom and the greatest country in the world with security. and that's what we're trying to do with this. in minnesota, we saw grants used to conduct security assessments and institute safety
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training classes. in palmer high school in colorado they implemented lockdown and evacuation procedures, doubled the number of doors operated by security cards so it reduced the number of outside individuals gaining building entry. it makes it harder for people to get in and it might be annoying for some parents but i think right now people realize this is what is needed. it's this balance. in florida, in leone county responsible for 50 schools they had no central point of contact to coordinate communication across all school facilities. so they set up with the funds from this program a 24-hour emergency operations centers which has significantly reduced emergency response times. it was one point of contact. so what we've done in this bill is not a one-size-fits-all. don't want say you have to do ten things in here. we say you come up with the plan, you send it to the department of justice, they
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look at the plan, and they work with you to make it good and if they think it's worthwhile, we will fund it 50%. in my final point i want to list two -- who supports our -- i want to show you who supports school safety provisions in the bill. that fra term order of police, law enforcement security industry, national sheriffs, national association of school resource officers, campus law enforcement administrators, a whole list, i would ask unanimous consent to place the list in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: i have left out p.t.a.'s, board association of the n.e.a. and so on. we have a long list. look, we will never be able to stand here and say we've solved every problem. you can't. but you have to be able to say and you have to be able to know that you did everything you could to reduce these tragedies.
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and as i stand here i think what will people say who don't vote for this and the next tragedy comes? what will they say? how can they look at their kids and their grandkids and say, well,ity it was right. -- i didn't think it was right. we need to do commonsense things, around here. the slawtder of innocents must stop. i'm going to support the toomey-manchin amendment, it closes the internet and gun show loopholes, it's not the perfect background check i would write, but it's good, it's solid, it moves forward. i'm going to support senator leahy, his -- his amendment which will out law the abuse of straw purchasing and gun trafficking. i will support senator feinstein's important amendment on assault weapons.
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she has worked so hard to make it fair and just and right. and it would take high-capacity clips off our streets. senator feinstein will have much more to say on assault weapons and i will withhold my remarks on that until that debate. so clearly we have work to do, and clearly, we all carry in our hearts stories from our states of this violence and now we have a moment in time where weengd actually act. and so -- we could actually act. i appreciate this opportunity and now i ask unanimous consent that the time until 6:00 p.m. be for debate only and that at 6:00 p.m. the senate recess subject to the call of the chair and that when the senate reconvenes the majority leader be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: now i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cruz: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. cruz: i rise today to honor the memory of margaret thatcher. when she passed, the united states lost a great ally, and the world lost one of the greatest champ yons of liberty -- champions of liberty who has ever lived. i commend our colleague, senator mitch mcconnell for offering a resolution approved by unanimous consent praising margaret thatcher's leadership, and i commend all 100 senators for consenting and adopting that resolution. i'd like to spend a brief amount of time talking about the incredible import of margaret thatcher's legacy. margaret thatcher became familiar to so many of us in the united states after she started winning elections. we think of her as the scourge of socialist policies that threatened to ruin britain, as the resolute victor of the
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falklands war, and of course as the ideological soulmate of president reagan who battled the soviets. i've always been fond of her admonition that conservatives need to first win the argument, then we'll win the vote. in other words, that we need to effectively communicate our ideas in order to prevail in elections, and elections will naturally follow as the consequence of doing so. and i'd like to talk about her days winning the argument, in particular her seminal speech on january 19, 1976 entitled "britain awake." at the time, it seemed to many that the conservative movement had failed. as james callahan succeeded harold wilson as the labour prime minister, the tories were
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in disarray. but thatcher wrested control of the party away from former prime minister edward heath. she said at the time that she did not anticipate a female prime minister in her lifetime. and i'd be remiss if i did not note that margaret thatcher was britain's first and to date only female prime minister. thatcher was a trailblazer and her ascension wasn't simply a matter of breaking the glass ceiling as much as it was refusing to acknowledge its existence. thatcher made the argument in that 1976 speech. she began by observing -- quote -- "the first duty of any government is to safeguard its people against external aggression, to guarantee the survival of our way of life." she then addressed the soviet
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menace, noting -- quote -- "they put guns before butter, while we put just about everything before guns." she bluntly and truthfully said the soviets were -- quote -- "a failure in human and economic terms." she went on to tell the nation -- quote -- "the advance of communism threatens our whole way of life." but, she said, "that advance is not irreversible providing that we take the necessary measures now. the longer that we go on running down our own means of survival, the harder it will be to catch it." these comments strikingly were echoed not long after by president ronald reagan when he spoke so clearly and addressed the soviet union as an evil empire and went on to observe that marxism would end up
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discarded on the ash heap of history. at the time margaret thatcher's comments, ronald reagan's comments were derided by much of the intelligence, the media, the academy, by many observers who knew far better than seemingly naive souls. they were derided when president reagan was asked what is your philosophy on the cold war? he responded, very simple. we win. they lose. that was seen as a simple mannequinan view of the world and not realistic yet i would suggest their vision ushered in a far safer day for humanity. margaret thatcher laid out the stark decision before the nation -- quote -- "there are moments in our history when we have to make a fundamental choice. this is one such moment.
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a moment where our choice will be -- will determine the life or death of our kind of society and the future of our children. let's ensure that our children will have cause to rejoice, that we did not forsake their freedom. margaret thatcher won the argument. she took office during britain's winter of discontent, when britain had double-digit inflation, a top income tax rate of 83% and rising unemployment. and she revolutionized the economy with free-market ideas in her ten years of service that ushered in a new decade of prosperity. when she took office, the top income tax rate was 83%. it was cut to 60% and then to 40%. the middle tax rate was cut to 30%. and the lowest tax rate was eliminated altogether. when she took office, the top
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corporate tax rate was 53%. she cut it to 35%. the top capital gains tax rate was a stifling 75%. thatcher cut it to 30%. and as a result, a progrowth policies, unemployment fell from a high of 12% early in her tenure to 7.5% near the end. public spending as a percentage of g.d.p. fell from 45.1% of g.d.p. to 39.4% of g.d.p. and inflation fell from almost 22% in 1979 to a low rate of 2.4% in 1986. but perhaps the most telling tribute to margaret thatcher's leadership is that three days after she gave her britain await
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speech, that heroic speech she was dubbed "the iron lady" in the communist news outlet "the red star." when your military enemies are describing you as formidable as the iron lady, it indicates that you're winning the argument, that your message is being heard. but margaret thatcher wasn't great just because she gave a good speech. she became great because she explained what was at stake. she articulated the meaning of economic freedom, freedom that announced -- allowed someone like her, a shopkeeper's daughter, to rise to prosperity and leadership. she articulated the value of national pride and convinced the public virtue of standing for freedom and against tyranny and
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oppression. as baroness lays down the torture freedom she spoke of in 1976, we can pay no higher tribute to her than to heed her arguments that are every bit as valid today as they were then. i think it is unfortunate that news accounts have indicated that the united states government will not be sending a member of the current administration to her funeral tomorrow. i hope that those news accounts are mistaken. i hope that president obama or vice president biden or senior members of the cabinet make the decision to travel to britain and to honor the incredible legacy of baroness margaret thatcher. it was truly a providential blessing that margaret thatcher
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served alongside president ronald reagan and pope john paul ii. together the three of them did something that previously had been unimaginable. so many had opined the cold war was unwinnable, that we had to accept detente. we had to accept a condition in which the united states would constantly be in military conflict with the soviet union and our children would constantly be in fear of potential catastrophic nuclear war. and yet, when reagan and thatcher and pope john paul all ascended to leadership, together they had the vision to do something that very few imagined was possible. to win the cold war without firing a shot. had that been suggested in the
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1970's, that would have been diminished as crazy talk, and yet that's precisely what they did. i would suggest in modern times there are few, if any, more deserving of the nobel peace prize than those three leaders whose vision, whose courage, whose collective leadership transformed the global debate and ended the cold war that jeopardized the very fate of humanity. there have been no other leaders in modern time more deserving of recognition of a prize like the nobel peace prize than three leaders who avoided war without firing a shot. today many of us are the children of the generation that fought and won the cold war. and we can gratefully rejoice
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that margaret thatcher and ronald reagan and pope john paul ii did not forsake our freedom. and as the children of those great leaders, it is now incumbent on us, the next generation, to ensure that freedom remains every bit as vital, every bit as real not just for this generation, but for our children and their children's children. baroness margaret thatcher was an extraordinary leader, a courageous leader, a woman of vision, a woman of principle and a hero. a hero to the united states and a hero to the world. and all of us, in my judgment, are in her debt. madam chairman, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: madam president, let me begin by offering my deepest condolences on behalf of all the people of maryland to the 20 students who lost their lives, the 6 adults at the hands of a single shooter at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, on december 14, 2012. some of the victims put themselves in harm's way in order to save lives of children. true heroes. we have an obligation to the sandy hook families to seize this moment, set our political fears aside and act responsibly. america has more than 3,300 victims of gun violence nationwide since the shooting at sandy hook elementary in newtown, connecticut. each heartbreaking event is shocking in its own right.
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the losses tears us apart wondering what could we have done to prevent this from happening. i am proud that the senate has come together to engage in a real debate on what steps should be taken to minimize the risks of future shootings. the safety of our children and our community should never be put at risk by partisan gridlock. i agree with president obama that we cannot wait for another tragedy to enact commonsense, reasonable gun-safety measures, especially on weapons of war that have no legitimate civilian use. i am sympathetic to the interests of legitimate hunters and collectors, but we should reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons. we should also prohibit high-capacity ammunition clips that hold more than ten rounds at a time. we must take steps together to strengthen our mental health system, make our schools safer, crack down on gun traffickers
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and straw purchases and reduce the glorification of violence in our culture. madam president, the elimination of assault weapons in our community would have minimal or no impact on legitimate hunters or legitimate gun owners, but it could save lives. listen to what law enforcement says. they don't think it's a fair fight when they have to come up against a criminal that has an assault weapon. the criminal has the advantage. we should support law enforcement and get assault weapons off the street. listen to the accounts of the massacres we've seen. when the perpetrators had these clips with so many rounds of ammunition, how at sandy hook they went into a classroom and just used the number of bullets that were in that round to massacre children. and how tragic that was.
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and how the consequences could have been different if these large ammo clips were not available. it could save lives. dealing with mental health issues, dealing with school safety issues, dealing with straw purchases; all of that could very much keep out of the hands of those who should not have weapons the type of weapons that caused these massive killings. i support requiring universal background checks for all firearm buyers as proposed by senator schumer. i congratulate my colleagues, senator manchin and toomey for coming to a bipartisan consensus on strengthening the current background check system. the background check proposals for the first time would require background checks for all gun sales in commercial settings, including at gun shows, on the internet and classified ads. i believe this legislation will help keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, domestic
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abusers and seriously meant little liu ill who have no -- mentally ill who have no business buying a gun. studies show nearly half of gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from conducting background checks. it makes no sense that felons, fugitives and others who are legally prohibited from something a gun can so easily use a loophole to buy a gun. once again, madam president, the use of a universal background check will have no impact on the legitimate needs of people who are entitled to have weapons. but it could and would help us keep our community safe by keeping out of the hands of our criminals those with serious mental illness, domestic abusers, the ability to easily obtain weapons as they can today. this legislation strengthens the national instant criminal background check system by incentivizing states to improve
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their reporting system and removing certain barriers to the submission of critical mental health records. this legislation also makes it easier for active-duty military personnel to buy guns in states where they live or are stationed for duty and clarifies people traveling across state lines may carry guns that are locked and unloaded. it is heartbreaking to listen to stories of innocent lives cut cruelly short, the pain and grief of families and friends of these students and teachers is unimaginable. we know that teachers and the aides put their lives on the line in order to try to save children as well as the unbelievable task of the first responders coming to a scene and not knowing what they would find. we send our prayers to all. we have do more than just words. we have to be judged by our deeds and we have a chance to reareally take action that coule
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helpful. i think president obama said it best: that our hearts are broken. congress needs to come together and take action to protect the safety of our children. we must do better. there have been too many episodes in which children's lives and others have been lost. we must figure out a way to prevent these types of tragedies. i am pleased that the state of maryland has recently taken action in the general asystemmably session that -- assembly session that concluded last week. governor o'malley recommended legislation adopted by the maryland general asystem tabla limits the capacity of magazine clips from 20 to 10, and increases restrictions on possession of firearm and ammunition by convicted criminals and those with mental health disqualifications. 9 president was correct to take executive a, t action to strengn our gun laws. the victims of gun violence deserve to have congress take up-or-down votes on these
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issues. to my colleagues who have reservations about this, let me cite the heller decision. the supreme court decided the district of columbia v. heller, the court held that the second amendment protects individuals' rather than a collective right to possess a firearm. the court also held that the second amendment right is not unlimited and is not a trite keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner for any purpose. justice scalia wrote for the court in that case. and i am going to quote from justice scalia. "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on the long-standing prohibitions on the suppose of firearms by felons and the mental lil or laws forbidden the carrying of firearms in sensitive places sufficient as schools and government buildings or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." justice scalia recognized
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congress's right -- and i would say obligation -- to make sure that those who are not qualified to own a firearm do not get that firearm. we have an obligation to make sure that the background checks are effective, to keep out of the hands of those criminals and those who have serious mental health issues the opportunity to easily obtain a firearm, as they can in many states today. the legislation now pending before the senate is in full skifullconsistency with the helr language from the supreme court. i know we can still protect children while protecting constitutional rights of legitimate hunters and existing gun owners. we should take that action on behalf of the safety of our communities. it is our obligation to act. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor.
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mr. whitehouse: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. we are gathered here in the senate in the somber shadow of the events in boston at the marathon, and i guess i'll start by conveying my sympathies to the individuals and their families who were killed or hurt in that terrible act, and i share the determination of so many people that our loment folk--that our law enforcement s will get to the bottom of this, that we will have iranian answed justice for the families
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affected. i rise today, though, on the subject that i come to the floor every week we're in session to discuss. that the need for this body to wake up to the reality of the clear scientific consensus that human activity is driving serious changes in our climate and oceans. for more than two decades the fossil fuel companies and certain right-wing extremists have cooked up a well-organized campaign to call into question the scientific evidence of climate change. the paid-for deniers then manufacture an interesting product. they manufacture uncertainty so that the polluters, who are doing the paying, can also keep polluting because a sufficient atmosphere of uncertainty has been created to inhibit progress. this is not a new strategy.
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we've seen this played before. industries eager to drown out scientific evidence to maximize profit is not a new story. they question the merits of requiring seat belts in automobiles. they questioned the toxic effects of lead exposure. they questioned whether tobacco was really bad for you. well, they were wrong then, and they're wrong now about climate. but interestingly, they don't actually care. it's not their purpose to be accurate. they just want to create doubt, to sow enough of a question to stop progress. and so these sophisticated campaigns are launched to give the public the false impression that there actually is a real
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scientific debate over climate change. and here in the senate, regrettably, some of my colleagues even promote this view. but, let's be practical here. which is the more likely case: a handful of nonprofit environmental groups using their limited funding to pay off literally hundreds and hundreds of climate scientists in an internationally coordinated hoax to falsify complicated climate research? really? or is it more likely that fossil fuel corporations are using a slice of their immense profits to float front groups to protect their immense profits?
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well, the answer to that question, i think, is obvious just from the logic, but we don't have to apply logic; we can follow the money and look at evidence. according to an analysis by the checks and balances project, a self-described pro-clean energy, government, and industry watchdog group, from 2006 to 2010, four sources of fossil fuel money -- just four of them -- contributed more than $16 million to a group of conservative think tanks that go about the business of being publicly critical of climate science and of clean energy. those four sources are the charles g.koch foundation, the claude r.lamm charitable foundation, the earheart foundation, and oil giant
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exxonmobil. on the receiving end is a lengthy roster of well-known and often-cited rightward-leaning outlets. the top ten -- we'll just talk about the top ten -- are the american enterprise institute, the cato institute, the competitive enterprise institute, the heartland institute, the heritage foundation, the hudson institute, the institute for energy research, the george c. marshal institute, the manhattan institute, and the mehr kay did -- andthe mercada center. who is giving? charles koch is the chairman and c.e.o. of koch industries. he is the sixth-richest person on the planet. koch industries is the second-largest privately held company in the united states of america. koch companies include the koch pipeline company and flint hills
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resources which operates refineries with a combined crude oil capacity of more than 292 million barrels per year. that much oil accounts for 126 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year, as much as 35 coal-fired power plants produce or 26 million cars. so to put it mildly, this fellow has got some skin in the game. between 2006 and 2010, the charles g. koch foundation gave almost $8 million to think tanks and institutes, including $7.6 million to the mercada center and $100,000 to the american enterprise institute. charles koch along with his brother david also established the claude r. lamm charitable foundation. those two have the same source.
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and they direct that foundation's giving as well. this foundation provided almost $5 million to climate-denying think tanks and institutes including over $1 million to the cato institute and more than $2 million to the heritage fadges. foundation. the earhart foundation was started by henry earhart using funds from his oil business, now a part of -- you guessed it -- exxonmobil. the earhart foundation has donated almost $1.5 million to climate-denier groups, $370,000 to the american enterprise institute, $3 poo,000 to the cato snurkts and another $195,000 for the george c. marshal institute. that leaves us of course exxonmobil itself, which is the second-largest corporation in the world and often the most profitable.
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ranked number one among fortune 500 companies, it's total revenues reached nearly half a trillion dollars in 2012, and their profits were nearly $45 billion. exxonmobil produces over 6 million barrels of oil per day at its 36 refineries in 20 countries, so it is the world's largest oil producer. from 2006 to 2010, the petroleum giant gave institutes more than $2.3 million, $is.2 million for the american enterprise institute, $220,000 for the heritage foundation, $160,000 for the institute for energy research, and $115 for the heartland institute. so what did the charles g. koch foundation and the claude r. lamm charitable foundation and the earhart foundation and exxonmobil get for awful that so-called charitable giving?
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well, the checks and balances project found that from 2007 to 2011, the ten organizations that i cited -- the top ten -- were quoted or cited or had articles published over 1,000 times -- over 1,000 times -- in 60 mai mainstream newspapers and print publications and invariably they were promoting fossil fuels, undermining renewable energy, or attacking environmental policies. that's good investing. spend millions of dollars on a handful of think tanks to protect billions of dollars in profits. really 1000:1 return. the public is unaware of the
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connection usually. only handful of these attacks were accompanied by any explanation by the media that the fossil fuel industry was involved in them. here's one prime example: last summer when the navy displayed its great green fleet, a carrier strike group that runs on a 50/50 blend of biodiesel and preliminary, institute for energy research president thomas pyle wrote a come u a collum fo. news & world report" calling that initiative ridiculous and a costly and pointless exercise. never mind for a moment that our defense and intelligence communities have repeatedly warned of the threats posed by climate change to national security and international stability. and of their own need to secure a reliable and secure fuel supply. what's misleading here is that
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"u.s. news & world report" in publishing that article attributed the collum simply thus: thomas pyle is the president of the institute for energy research, with no mention that the institute for energy research is a front for big donors like the claude r. lamm charitable foundation and exxonmobil. may i ask for an additional five minutes? may i have unanimous consent? ferraro is there objection?ñ without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. the problem is that the -- this is one example of a misleading practice that is the norm in the media. more than half of the time, media outlets do nothing more than state the name of the publishing organization, like thomas pyle and the institute for energy research. or they may add a functional description like "think tank" or
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"nonpartisan group." the instance where the public described the basic ideology of the group, for example, as a free market or conservative think-tank, amount to less than a third. in all of the media outlets reviewed between 2007-2011, the financial ties between the authors and the fossil fuel industry were mentioned a mere 6% of the time. 94% of the time, the fossil fuel industry funders got away with it. this chart shows some of the examples. "the washington post" ignored the financial connection 88% of the time. "politico" ignored the financial connection 95% of the time. "the christian science monitor" ignored it every time. "usa today" ignored it 98% of the time. and "the new york times" ignored it 90% of the time. so the scam of laundering money through independent sounding organizations works. the media lets it work.
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the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring, but a recent gallup poll revealed that only 62% of americans believe that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring. well over 90% of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause. the only uncertainty is about how bad it is going to be. and the leading research predicts warmer air and seas, rising sea levels, stronger storms and more acidic oceans. most major players in the private sector actually get it, while the big fossil fuel polluters try to confuse the public in order to boost their bottom line and prolong their pollution, hundreds of leading corporations understand that climate change ultimately undermines our entire economy. let me think of some of the -- mention some of the examples. the ford motor company.
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coca-cola. g.e. wal-mart. the insurance giant, munich re. alcoa, the great aluminum maker. >> mask. procter & gamble. fedex. and the so-called bicep group, which includes ebay, intel, starbucks, adidas and nike. so this notion that this is a hoax, that there's doubt is belied by some of the most respected names in the private sector. and those companies join the national academies. they join nasa. they join the u.s. department of defense, government accountability office, the american public health association, and, yes, the united states conference of catholic bishops. as well as the majority of americans in understanding that it is time to wake up, to end this faux controversy that has
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been cooked up by the fossil fuel industry and to do the work here in congress that needs to be done to protect americans from the harms of carbon pollution. i thank the presiding officer, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess subject to the
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impose a particular world view. a world view i call lynn really aism. and go to a definition of that
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so we aren't using terms loosely. as a chic -- christian, i'm worried the state hhs mandate wants have to pay for in their insurance programs, and i'm worried when the supreme court starts taking up things like gay marriage. i'm worried i sigh at the universities. so i see more and more the estate imposing a particular kind of agenda and it's really a world view. this is bigger than politics. it's bigger than republicans and democrat. it's a particular world view. that's the view i'm investigating. >> liberalism as the state religion and the dechristianization of america on after words. sunday night at 9:00 on booktv. indiana congressman talks
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about the federal budget and the boston marathon attacks. from washington journal, this is forty minutes. >> we're back with congressman luke, republican of indiana represents the sixth direct. on the budget committee as well. we'll get to the issue. let's begin with a boston bombings. what was your reaction when you found out about it? >> you can't help but be heard broken. we would like to believe in america when you have an event like boston marathon, you can't have the terrorist attack like this. we don't know exactly who did this and are still searching for leads on who to blame, it's clear that the thing was orgestrated in a way it was a terrorist attack. i believe, you know, we have seen the kind of response we need to see starting with trying to make sure folks are safe and
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we don't have a sort of series of these events in the near term and working toward a process trying to find a perpetrator. >> host: would you say what you have seen from this president and the white house. >> guest: yeah. we have to come together as a country when the tragedies occur. the facts will unfold, i think it's important to take the time. we have seen and events like this where we rush to judgment and end up having a wrong fact. i think we need to take the time to have the facts right. what i've seen so far. >> host: what makes you say it's an act of terror when the paper is reporting this morning only one white house official was quoted in all the papers saying it appears to be an act of terror. we will treat it as such. the president didn't use those words. what makes you think. >> guest: it looks from what i understand this was a series of
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ebbing plosion. it doesn't look like a accident. you look at the target at the finish line as well. we don't know yet is the honest answer. we'll have to see how it unfolding. >> host: act of terror. what does it mean to you? >> someone for largely political motivation is trying to make a point and murder innocent victims. this seems to fit the category. we can't rush to judgment. we have to see the fact when they unfold. >> host: what does it mean for prosecution and how much effort and resources we put behind trying to find the person or persons that did this. >> host: i think it's important when the erchts occur that folks, criminals, evil people understand that they will be brought to justice and we will throw whatever resources we need to to make sure that that occurs. i think it's there's reason of justice for those who are victim and try deter future events we must be vigilant and strong in
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responding. >> host: is security adequate in this country. >> guest: by definitioning in like this occurs you would say it's an inadequate. it's a free country. we can't allow our lives to be altered because a few evil people want to try to scare us. i was thinking as i drove in this morning that, you know, if all of us remember the evening of september 11, 2001, and at that moment, in our nation's history, frankly, it would have seemed unimaginable. we have had as if tragedies as we have had over the course of well -- twelve years. by and large, i think the bush and obama administration should be alawed for the efforts. the men and women who work in our law enforcement agencies to keep us safe. when the tragedies occur, we
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can't help but be heart broken. >> host: let's move to the budget. in the front page of the "washington post" this morning has the headline "lawmakers ready to weigh entitlement, president obama offered to trim -- g.o.p. leaders are embarrassing the proposal and rushing to jump start a debate that delve even more deeply to the touching topic of federal spending on the elderrerly. where do you come down for cpi, as being called as well as hired medicare premium yum and reduced benefit for welfare senior. >> guest: i think you have to start with the premises we can't keep spending money. we have. at the same time we have seniors who have paid in to these programs and folks years away from retirement who paid to social security and medicare with the understanding they have
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the are security that comes from the program being strong. actuary of either party will tell you the number in medicare and social security don't work in the long-term. we're ten years away from medicare being bankrupt. a little bit longer depending how you count social security being bankrupt. it's clear now that we receive fewer dollars in tax revenue than we spend out. something has to be done. >> host: do you support the idea. >> guest: if you look at issues -- idea like cpi. if it was a part of broader package i could support it. that's the testing a program. we have to look at extending the age of the programs for folks that are under 55 or 58. somewhere in that target line. frankly, if you're not reforms for the program, then you're foreseeing them go bankrupt. that's unacceptable. don't want to which is probably erase taxes if you don't -- if you don't look at some of these
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kind of reform. >> host: inside "the washington post here's what your colleagues are saying, colins of new york who accused the president of cutting spending on the back of our senior and representative greg, the chairman of the house republican called obama's plan a shocking atab on seniors. >> guest: i don't agree with those comments. the budget committee democratic colleague of mine from wisconsin made an interesting point, which is it's difficult to present a comprise budget when you haven't done the work. it takes comprise. and, you know, i'm encouraged that the president put this idea in the budget. i'm discouraged he's tied any discussion on the reforms to further tax increases. and i also think a lot of work is going to need to be done before we can get a working comprise to congress. >> host: it brings up the debt limit debate that is coming up in the weeks ahead. are you a no-vote on raising the
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debt limit if there's not a grand bargain on spending? >> guest: well, grand bargain can have a broad dpef in -- definition. [laughter] this is what i would say it's a major event when we raise the deadline. the speaker, for example, has had a rule in place, baner rule that said any increase should be accompanied by a similar reconstruction in spending. i don't know if that's the right approach or tax reform is the right approach or major entitlement reform is the approach. but clearly we're going have to start to reign in this budget data limb ma so we can continue to extent the debt limit. >> host: something has to be done in order for you to vote yes. >> guest: i think it's going to take a major comprise that relates to spending in revenue and way that helps grow the economy and balance the budget. we're going standoff this
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summer. >> host: let's get to phone calls. nick has been waiting in indiana. you're on the air with congressman luke messer. republican of indiana. serving on the budget committee as well. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hello. i had a couple of short comments. first of all, i was calling about the lax gun laws in indiana. i hear a lot of talk about crime in chicago, and those shootings and deaths over there, but it's a well known fact that those criminals and gangs come over to northwest indiana to purchase the weapons. and also, our new governor is trying to invite arms dealers to the state, you know, for their manufacturing, and last year they got rid of union pretty much and it just seems like the wage have been trickling down in indiana for the last ten years. the unemployment is higher than
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the national average. >> host: all right. a few issues there. we -- start with the lax gun laws in indiana. >> guest: yeah. i don't know that i would agree with on the caller that we have lax gun laws in indiana. indiana is a state where the second amendment is important to our citizen. i believe we need to continue to defend that bedrock principle and liberty. we are in the middle of big gun debate here in washington, d.c., it will be interest fog see what comes out of the senate. most recent reports i have read are that may not have the vote to pass the relatively limited gun background check. they have tried to pass in the comprise. as far as wages, you know, listen, i think that's a very legitimate concern across the country. we have had stagnant growth frankly throughout most of the obama administration and the leadership in the last five years. we need do better.
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>> host: why is it okay to spent billions of year on corporate entitlement who don't pay taxes. we pay for our entitlements wall street does not. >> guest: it's not okay. , i mean, frankly, we need to bring it in and change our tax code in a way that lowers rates for everybody and eliminate the big corporation. i do recognize, i think the caller -- the e-mail is correct. folks have paid in to social security and medicare deserve to receive those benefits. the problem is something is not done, then the programs over time have the risk of going away. >> host: on twitter wouldn't social security and medicare be in a better shape if wages were higher? >> guest: wouldn't social security and medicare be in better shape if wages were higher? yeah. that's right. one of the challenges we face is how do you get the growing economy going forward and that
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is up with of our big debate for the summer. republicans believe that we need modify our tax code and reduce rates and use taxes to grow the economy. much of what the president says he wants to see the money used to funder government. >> host: the noise you heard was two pennys on the table. any significance why you have two pennys. [laughter] >> guest: i didn't mean to be discovered so quickly. they are an illustration i use when talking about the sequester. folks $85 million is a lot of money, but it's 2% of our federal budget. and you know what most folk, i talk to believe is that our federal government is not efficient and effective we can't save two pennies on dollar. if you look at the back, this
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phrase which is on most of our coins means from anyone. it's just the simple point that one of the things that makes america different than most country than the rest of the world. when you come here legally you are 100% full american from the first day. that's not true in many other nations. we have big challenges with immigration we form. it's important to recognize it's been a long standing tradition in this country. >> host: with that we move to greg in north carolina. republican caller. go ahead, greg. >> caller: yes. thank you for taking my call. thank you for your guest. i worked one, two, sometimes three jobs. i have had some good jobs. i really have. i have been blessed. i worked for social security, and i've worked for -- they have
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benefits now for five years. now -- [inaudible] they step on those they step on the easiest ones to step on. the issue of retired folks. i paid. i paid dearly high taxes. since 1970, i have seen congress, they trip over themselves they can't agree on -- [inaudible] i believe in america. i look positive on america. [inaudible] >> host: i'm going have the congressman respond. >> guest: i think greg shares a frustration that many americans share. america seems for too many americans broken, i think when
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it comes specifically to social security and medicare, we have to understand is that we all want to make sure that these programs continue to thrive and survive so that card recipient, those nearing retirement, and those who are decades away from retirement have an opportunity for those programs to be successful. that won't happen if we don't change them in some ways. nobody they talk to on capitol hill is talking about eliminating social security or medicare or even, frankly, reducing it in meaningful ways. the question is those 55 and younger, can we change eligibility, means test, consider things like extending the age of el jinlt, and -- eligibility and for existing recipient, can we use the cpi, for example, what they call changed cpi which is essentially frying to have more accurate inflation measure. i think part of what congress is frustrated in the way they are
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there's a lot of demagogue i are being thrown around describe the president's proposal what that's is not consistent what he proposed. >> host: we talked talked about the boston bombings. an update from cnn thats who -- boston area hospitals received 152 patients. secret service still have pennsylvania avenue here in washington outside the white house closed down this morning. bonnie in martins berg, west virginia. hi, bonnie. independent. >> caller: good morning. >> host: good morning. >> caller: i would like to ask the gentleman. i don't understand, i'm 68 and i've lived in d.c. all my life. i moved up here several years back, and i see a difference in the way people seem to be about
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the welfare thing. i would be interested to know why we talk about all of these entitlement cuts and that no one seems to look at the condition of the welfare board. these people -- everyone is in a hurry to get the free money. to get on to welfare. they don't want to work. there's plenty of jobs out here. they're not the greatest jobs, that may be true. some are sustainable as far as living conditions, and i would be interested to know why you want to -- everyone wants to cut up -- i don't consider it entitlement. i think when you work for something and you put it away it's like your bank account is not entitlement it's your money. >> host: all right, bonnie. >> guest: one, i agree with bonnie. our welfare state has gotten out of hand. it's amazing the number of employers in indiana, the sixth congressional district i talk to that tells you a story. they were trying to hire
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somebody to the factory and business, restaurant and told the unemployment runs out in two weeks. i can come back in two weeks and have a job. most typically the employer said you can't. you demonstrate your work ethic. as far as social security and medicare, listen, i'm agreeing with all of these callers in the sense we need to protect social security and medicare and make sure it's there for future generation and look at common-sense reform that preserve there are there. i have 85-year-old grandmother who worked her whole life in tough jobs as a cook and cleaning buildings and she comes -- i have a 63-year-old mother who is worked in factory her whole life. she raised my brother and i on her own. she's nearing retirement and making the decisions. do you wait until 65 or 64 to maximize the benefit.
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she couldn't make it through retirement without social security or medicare. we have to make the choices it takes to make sure the programs continue. >> host: you mentioned gun control earlier. the senate, the viewers know, that the senate is debate is underway in the chamber. the proposal put forth on background checks by senators joe machin and pat toomey. if you could gate vote, how would you vote? >> guest: right now. i'm undecided on the proposal. if i had to vote today i would vote no. when in doubt i wouldn't change the law bout knowing the full implication of it. my first thought on this gun control measure is this, this is a bedrock principle of lib tip. let's take the time to go through the legislative process and make sure we have the bugs worked out. you know, for example, the harry reid version of the bill, which the amendment you described would be put in, it had the page and a half definition on what a transaction is for a gun purchase.
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there's a lot of details that go in to that. i've been told, for example, if someone were to violate the hunting law, they kill a zero -- deer out of season or something. they down in a situation where by selling a gun they could be responsible for criminal charges. we need to be thoughtful about the process. obviously we're heart broken by incidents in connecticut and colorado and elsewhere. i'd like to see the debate focus more on what can we do, i think, on comprehensive approach to mental health. what can we do to enhance school security? it seems that partly because of the president's strong position here, that the legislators are scrambling to find anything they can pass so they can say they did something to further control guns. that doesn't seem to be a common sense way to make laws.
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>> host: republican pat toomey had to say yesterday on the floor. he was talking about the supreme court's 2008 decision in the district of columbia versus haller. here's what he had to say. >> justice scalia nothing in the opinion, the heller opinion affirming the individual right of the aced amendment. he said nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast out on long standing prohibition on the possession of firearm by felon and the mentally ill or laws imposing condition and qualification on the commercial sale of arms. seems to me that's an explicit explanation that it is not on an infringement on second amendment rights to attempt to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, mentally ill people. so the if founders in agreement on this and the supreme court in agreement, and we have laws in all fifty states that name illegal for certain criminals
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and mentally ill people to have firearms, question is are we willing to take modest measures to try to achieve this goal that, i think we all share. and that is clearly consistent with our snugs. -- snugs. you heard the senator say it's consistent. the constitution. the background check they're putting forward. >> guest: he said a couple of things. ilgd he like to go from the premise from the proposal is constitutional. ic we have the details matter we have to figure out. i agree with the underlying premise there's nothing inconsistent with the second amendment to nothing inconsistent with the second amendment when it relates to keeping guns away from the mentally ill or criminals. the question is how do we do that? we have an existing background check legislation or bill of policy in places as a country,
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frankly, it's not being used all that well and it certainly, as we have seen in recent tragedy not kept guns away from the mentally ill and criminals. it's a high profile ways -- yet i'm not opposed. i think most folks i talk to aren't opposed to figuring out ways we can better utilize the existing background check system to make sure that criminals and the mentally ill don't receive guns. but i think we want to be mindful of doing that in a way that doesn't create a national gun registry that would be a tremendous limitation on the second amendment rights and frankly not consistent with our founding fathers. again, i would like to us focus, -- instead of focusing on the gun bans and the background check that already have. let's focus on security and mental health and other challenges that help prevent the tragedy. >> host: "the new york times" reporting this morning that the
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republicans the senator who came up with the proposal machin and toomey are looking for support and thinking about making changes to what they already put on the floor. one approach designed to -- particularly in alaska hundreds of miles from a gun dealer. lawmakers hoping they can attract support from republicans and democrats who are weighing the political cost and benefit of the bill against perception they are tipping away at gun rights. >> guest: i would i want to see the detail. my first reaction some of the challenges so you in trying to pass the obamacare bill this state or that state. it looks an effort to cobble together the votes and not the way we ought to make policy on something as important as second amendment. >> host: bake to phone calls. democratic caller. thank you for waiting, lo wees. >> caller: i want to ask the representative, if you've got
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billions of dollars on the border, and i don't [inaudible] >> host: we're listening. go ahead. >> caller: okay you have -- to legalize. there's no doubt in america and especially for -- [inaudible] i mean, what do you need more people and you don't have -- illegals that you're going bring in have to be working -- it's already there's no jobs here. >> guest: yeah. i think lois expresses a frustration you hear in the sixth congressional district. i think any immigration plan has to start with a conversation about border security. i'm encouraged by the fact, as i understand a plan to be released. it will invest billions of dollars make suring we have a secure border. the second point we have 11 million undocumented immigrants
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in america, and frankly, they have today de facto amnesty. unless they commit a violate criminal act they are unlikely to be sent home. what are we going do to deal with that? >> host: if the proposal in the house matches what the senate is talking about, that is $7 billion in investment border security. the borders have to be secure before there's a pathway to citizenship. are you a yes vote? >> guest: details matter. but i would say this, i believe that a proposal that starts with strong border security that is not better than those who came here legally, as i understand it if one were to leave today you can come back in ten years and apply for citizenship. as i understand the plan it would be ten years before you could get an official green card and probably thirteen years the closest someone could come. that seems to make sense. i think it's important as we address this debate that we
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recognize that no one has a right to come this country illegally. there may be reason of compassion and economic reasons to deal with this challenge. i think you start with border security. you make sure that folks aren't treated better coming here -- treat better coming illegally than if they came legally. and we have to pay -- i agree with an approach of paying back tax and an e-verify system that is enforceable so that you can no longer work in america unless you're part of that system. >> host: matt, concord, new hampshire. independent caller. >> caller: yeah. good morning, representative. back to social security. you know, i started my professional working career in the mid '70s, when i graduated from high school and i went a professional job, i didn't do military. i didn't have the opportunity.
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and then the '80s i started hearing about social security. i monitored the situation my whole life. unfortunately i became disabled in an accident. not my fault. it just happened. that's life. it happens. just like explosions in boston. there was a cap on the payroll tax used to fund social security. that cap is around $103 ,000 to $1 10,000. you can't get accurate figures. i have a written -- brain injury and i do my own research. just remove the cap. whether you get social security or not. that shouldn't be a part of the issue. if we did that and did it fifteen years ago we would no problems. some of the solutions seem simple. and i follow -- you had of -- it's not a tax fraud -- there's
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a term used for it tax expenditure. if we remove them from the a commercial code, private code, whatever remove every tax expenditure it would help this country. and you sit there and say we need jobs, we need jobs, we need jobs. then instantly we should stop shipping them to out of the country for tax breaks. >> host: okay. congressman? >> guest: yeah. matt made several points. the first thing i want to say is the good news is i talked to those on capitol hill who doesn't understand the importance of preserving social security and medicare for economisting reaccept i didn't and -- existing recipient and the future generation. the step is make sure the programs preserved. the caller gives unexample, which is the cap on social security taxes could you raise that cap some or eliminate? i would not support eliminating. i think that would not make a lot of sense.
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i think most folks don't want to talk about the kinds of tax increases that need to be done if we don't look somehow at the benefit side of the equation as women. and the -- well and the caller makes the other point, a growing economy would make a big difference for all of the challenges we face. >> host: we'll go to donna in ohio. independent caller. >> caller: good morning, thank you for taking my call. my first comment is on the gun control. i live in ohio. a few years ago i was going on vacation. i stopped in a bathroom walked in and found on the tie let role holder a fully loaded.38 caliber smith & wesson revolver. i took it to the local police station and i learned it was registered to a woman in my own neighborhood. i asked about the consequences of leaving a gun in the bathroom. and there were none. and my comment was why got my fishing license every year i get
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three pages of regulation. we have no regulations on registered guns and people who leave them behind? >> host: congressman? >> guest: yeah. it's hard to justify the circumstances she describes there. obviously that is a error in judgment by her neighborhood who made that mistake. and, you know, that kind of behavior with guns, i think would be best handled at the state level. seem to me, it sounds like the gun owner was negligent. >> host: let me put another issue on the table. you serve on the foreign affairs committee. here's "the new york times." u.s. practice torture after 9/11. it come from a nonpartisan review of integration and program after the 9/11 terrorist attack concludes that quote, it is undisputable that the united states engaged in the process of torture and the nation's highest officials were ultimate responsibility for it.
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as a member of the foreign affairs committee, what do you think it does to our strategy overseas? >> guest: i think it's a complicated challenge. i mean, you've got put yourself back in the circumstances of september 11, 2001, and the real threat we faced of a major attack that would have been -- comparable to what happened in new york on september 11. we have big challenge moral delimb ma. i wasn't there. i don't know the details of what was done. i think obviously there need to be some limitation. we are american we don't behave in a way that many and other areas of the world would. i also believe that it's hard to argue with the result and the results have been that the kind attack, again, we don't know whot perpetrator was in boston yesterday. the kind attack you saw yesterday in boston has been -- >> host: keith, florida, republican caller.
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>> caller: good morning. >> host: good morning, keith. >> caller: good morning. thank you for your service, congressman. and thank you for c-span. you know, the ironic thing about the immigration reform is in about on a five-year -- but 300,000 baby boomers retire in a month. we need more people to work employment is going to be easy to get. i hope you are taking that in consideration in discussing the bill. i don't understand why you don't something simple. the reason they are coming here for work and education for their kids. why isn't it not a mandate that we have to prove legal resident sei to get to our schools, and instead of border police, we should have them checking work force for illegal workers. we wouldn't need a border if those two things are done in this country. there would be no reason for people to come. >> guest: well, i mean, keith makes an important point that we
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have mag magnet here which is the thieving economy. part of any reform has to include an or e-verify system but yo can't get a job unless you are part of the system. and i do agree with the caller. the economic security of this country has been in part based on immigration for hundreds of years. that's not likely to end any time soon. >> host: laurie in california, democratic caller. >> caller: good morning. i have a comment and a question, please. >> host: okay. >> caller: my comment is, since obama first took office, i have yet to see a comprise by the republican party with obama. no matter what he says, even when he's offering them -- and i'd like him to -- congressman
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to set example of where the republican party has been willing to comprise. >> guest: yeah. well, i mean, one example was the no budget no pay bill that passed a few weeks ago where essentially through both congress, houses of congress, and the president we passed a law that said if we don't pass budgets, that the legislature wouldn't get paid. i do agree with the caller that, you know, it's important we reach out and try to find areas where we can agree. as president of the freshman class, reach across the aisle to matt cartwright and had a series of events we try get to know each other. it's in this process, it's easy to demonize people you don't know. and so when you take the oath of office, it doesn't say anything you vow to protect and defend the constitution. it doesn't say anything about your political party. part of the problem with the president, frankly, his idea of comprise would be similar to the
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budget he just put forward. the house democrats had a budget that raised taxes by a trillion, the senate democrats and the president was trillion one. nofts a comprise between left and the most conservative of the democrats. with a we're going to have to do to mover the country forward is find common ground. >> host: we go to indiana. >> caller: good morning. >> host: good morning. >> caller: [inaudible] talk about how the -- [inaudible] save a lot of money and save a lot of lives does the -- [inaudible] affect 70% over thirteen years. -- [inaudible]
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[inaudible] forty years ago nixon made -- [inaudible] president reagan made it. it made it worse not better. on television saying that cartel down there the president is having a ball. 60,000 people murdered because drug habit. we have been in iraq twice that long we lost ,500 men in eight years. [inaudible] [inaudible] >> host: all right. we'll get a response from the congressman. >> guest: yeah. well, i do think there's some opportunity for discussion here. i would not be for a quart launch elimination of the nation's drug law. >> host: the last phone call from preston, maple city, michigan. independent caller.
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idea. >> caller: hi. i want to actually bring something to your attention. i have landscaped for probably ten years. i'm from michigan, i moved to colorado because you can work more during the winter season. i work with a lot of people from mexico and other countries, even. and probably i would say literally 90% of the people would get paid and send that money overseas to their country back to their family, and then they would obviously cash it in and we lose all that money. that money doesn't come back. excuse me. and i just don't understand why we keep letting so many people in to our country when we're suffering enough and the american people don't have the jobs because they're being replaced by other people. >> host: freshman luke
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messer. >> guest: two things. the caller highlights the enforcement. over 40% of the current illegal immigration system are people who came here first legally. we need better enforce those existing laws. secondly, we're going have to have a stronger more secure border if we're going to stop this continued influx of folks coming here in an undocumented way. part of the proposal being put forward is a way of making sure we have the stronger border. >> host: a tweet from larry. the biggest problem we have is a congress that wants to preserve social security and medicare. both unconstitutional and distortding america. >> guest: i support social security and medicare. we're going fight to make sure we keep it. >> host: william quick in texas. >> caller: how are you? >> host: good morning. go ahead. >> caller: i would like to ask the congressman about the black
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lady caller earlier asking about the black, you know, being put out of work because of the mexican immigrants that are coming through. and he never answered the question. he went all the way over. also, i would like to ask another question about -- black farmers -- [inaudible] ten years ago when are they going give them the money to -- [inaudible] thank you. >> guest: i'm not sure i understand the second half of the question. the first half let me say this racism is an awful terrible thing. it's inexcusable whenever it's exercised. i think while it's natural we talk about races and immigration, we ought to make these policies this ways that are race neutral. i mean, the reality is that no one has a right to come to this country illegal i. there are reasons of compassion and most importantly, there are reasons economic reasons if are our nation to tackle these
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challenges. i think continuing the status quo is not acceptable. we have a unique opportunity this summer to come a sensible comprise hopefully we will. >> host: congressman luke messer. thank you for talking to our viewers. we appreciate your time. >> guest: glad to be here. two senators briefed president obama on the details of the immigration bill. the gang of 8 comprise. new york senator chuck schumer and arizona senator john mccain spoke with reporters after the meeting. it's fifteen minutes. [inaudible conversations] well, we had a very good meeting with the president. we briefed him on the details of our immigration reform bill, and
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while he certainly might not agree with every single part of it, he was very supportive of the bill we have put together, and simply wants to make sure we keep moving it along and get something done. i think everyone realizes, john realizes, i realize, the others of our group of eight and the president realize no one is going get everything they want in a bill. but if we meet in the middle we can do a lot of good for america and for our economy. and so we're feeling very good about this, things are moving in a very, very good way, and the president's support of our proposal, even though he wouldn't fully agree with it is just the right place to be. because we want lots of support even from people who might not agree with every single part. but i don't want to give you the impression he's grudging about it.
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he's enthusiastic about us getting a bill done. as i said before, has been playing it just right. moving us forward but giving us the space to come up with our greement. i thanked him, john thanked him for doing that. he's going to continue to do that so we can get a done. >> we briefed a president on the number of detail of our proposal that the gang of eight is coming up with. we will be bringing forward in the united states senate as short of time as this evening. the president is supportive in the process we went through. and the president having been in the senate and seen this process before is very supportive. the president realizes that everybody didn't get what they wanted completely, but it's a product of comprise. we appreciate the president's support, and we believe that is important as we move forward with the process. the president also agrees that this is the beginning of a process not the end. that we will have a hearings and
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we will a amendment, we will have floor debate. i'm confident that at the end of the day we will have a bill to the president's desk. because all of players involved in the on board. every major player business or labor. that hasn't changed from the last time we tried in 2007. >> two more points, we hope to bring the bill tonight. we're working as we speak. that's very, very important. and one of the things we all agree with is there ought to be an open process. people who don't agree with offer their amendments, but the idea of we in the group and our friends in colleagues who are supportive sticking together to make sure the core of the bill is kept intact is important. the bigger vote we can get in the senate, the easier it will be to pass it in the house.
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we're aiming not to pass it with 61 or 60 votes. >> reporter: the administration's response to the terror attacks so far. are you concerned at all that this was delay action on some legislative priorities? >> i don't see any connection to tell you the truth. in fact, if we enacted this legislation, part of our bill is exit and entry for required documentation. in fact, it would make it harder for people who enter and leave this country that we don't want in this country. we would have tamper proof documents for people who go to get a job without over time creating the e e-verify system better tracking who is the country and who isn't. i would argue the message will enhance our ability to keep our country secure. we delayed for a day not because any conflict between the two, but out of respect for the
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people of boston and the families who lost loved one. >> your reaction to the overall response. >> i think it's that the response in both state and federal and local as well our fbi involvement is certainly adequate. and i hope that they will be able to ascertain who perpetrated this. as far as i can tell they are doing everything that is needed to be done. >> you mentioned -- [inaudible] is there a indication you believe it's a foreign involvement. >> i do not. [inaudible conversations] >> the last 48 hours the sticking point you had to resolve difficult process to resolve. and the 2007 bill fell apart over amnesty in future. how is the bill from a policy better . >> first, we pretty much resolved the major issues about a week and a half ago. when agricultural -- i guess
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last friday. agricultural finally came together. that was the last major sticking point, obviously when business and labor got on the phone. good friday evening and agreed on a piece of paper that we had sent them. that was a big major change. two, the two biggest answers to both of the questions we have business and labor on board. that was not true in 2007. in fact labor was actively trying to sculgd the bill. i think john will correct me if i'm wrong. not on are business and labor on farm and the farm growers and workers on board they are on board enthusiastic. each thinks it's a good bill for for them high-tech is on board. the religious community, liberal and conservative on board enthusiastically. we have a lot of broad support that was not there in 2007. the other sticking point is amnesty. if you have to go to the back of
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the line, first, if you have to register. go to the back of the line, learn english, work, stay clear of the law, admit wrong doing, and pay a significant fine. that's not amnesty in anyone's bock except people opposed to any immigration bill. >> let me aid to that, if i could. the attitude of the american people changed since 2007. that's their poll after poll. as long as the requirements that senator schumer just outlined the overwhelming majority of americans are willing to give the people in the country ill lee lip. some for many years the opportunity to have a path to citizenship and have a legal residence here. i would remind you 40% of the people are here illegally because they overstayed their visa not because they came across our border. we have very tough border enforcement provisions. border enforcement provision and a senator schumer articulated
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pay fines, back taxes. most americans support the proposal far more than 2007. [inaudible] >> yeah. frankly elections have had an impact as well. >> i would say this, the senate and the american people are at one with this. they will be sport the senate and the american people will support common sense, balance solutions to future immigration and the 11 million here illegally provided that they have assurance that we will not have a future waves of illegal immigration. john made that a watch word as we have moved this bill through. and we believe those provisions are very important. the president, fence, didn't believe in a trigger. we if. but we created a trigger that achievable and specific so it can't be used as an excuse not
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to provide the path to citizenship. >> reporter: senators, in 2007, once the bill was introduced was with you started to get the wave of talk radio critics and the town hall meetings. i know, senator mccain remembers well. [laughter] so, you know, there's already some chatter, is there any reason to believe the same dynamic. >> the effort of a lot of us. but especially marco rubio. there's an outreach to many of the talk show hosts. many of those who are a posed to -- opposed in past and called amnesty. we have been able to make an argument that mr. of -- many of the people -- one it's not am test any and we'll have a secure border and won't have a third wave of people to come this country illegal. that was the great concern in the past. and finally, we are able to convince people that it is good for the american economy.
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>> reporter: half of million workers here -- [inaudible] between professional and white collar workers will the american people accept half a million every year. >> what we're doing is taking in people when there is not a job available to americans. that's one of the underlying principles of our bill. we are desperately short of engineers and ph.d.es and matt and science and the people tend to be the job creators. a quarter of the silicon valley was found by immigration. -- statement american -- if we don't have imported labor for farm work we won't grow crops and will import food. it's not the number. it's the way we have done it this which is important. i have been tough on provision where americans will dot job. in other words i would say in my corner of the world. i ride my bicycle around
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brooklyn and i see people on street corner and small construction guy say we'll give you $20 to work eight hour. it lowers the cost of labor. they are americans who will job the little for pay. they'll get the opportunity. you put it all together and i think it's a fair bill. here is our basic, basic premise nice is this. the system is broken. we turn away people who create jobs in america. we allow the cross over of border people who take jobs away from americans. and second, as i said, we believe that americans will be balanced and support common sense solutions to those who are here, the 11 million who are here illegally today and future immigration as long as they're sure there won't a third wave of immigration. those are the two guiding
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principle. >> i mention two points. you ask about the number of workers. over half of the individuals who will graduate from our major institutions with technical degrees this post graduate degrees are not persons. we want them to have an opportunity to stay in america if they want to. second of all, most important part of this legislation is verification, e-verify that the employer will not be able to hire someone who is in this country illegally as long as people will do that, there's going to be a magnet. soon word gets it fen you get to the country that there's not going to be a job there, that will what drives up the -- >> reporter: you mentioned that -- mention any other . >> no he didn't get to the specific detail. we know he doesn't agree with it.
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.. the bill will go on the market scheduled next tuesday, but then you have a week that it's actually ready and judiciary and one can delineate a week. we can have a marker though, opponents cannot for the
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amendments they like in early may. it will take a couple weeks and we hope to have the bill on the floor late may, early june. the president wants to have an open process but doesn't want to drag this out because that is the way bilski killed. that was one of the most important points he made. [inaudible] >> we are working hard. for the toxic said jones racing.
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homeland secretary janet napolitano and robert mueller are pushing commanders now. at next, mark kelly, a democrat of arizona spoke in favor of gun control legislation in congress and more specifically the recent proposal on background checks sponsored by pat to me -- toomey and joe manchin. watch the entire remarks at c-span.org. >> going to be voted on here soon enough than that supported by 90% of american households. 93% of households who have gunowners. also, when you look at conservative states like texas and arizona, it has over 80% support.
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an expanded background check is supported by 74% of nra members. so we have a bill here that is not the bill if it was my job, not the exact bill that i woulde aite, but at this point --hatpe >> mental health care has been one of my top priority since i came to the senate. glad people are beginning to focus more on the issue.al heala but if we are going to make poi. mental-health a part of this, let's make it more than just th. talking points >> testing one, two, three -- since the first day that i got here, i've been pushing the administration to issue the final regulations for the wellstone-domenici mental health parity and addiction equity act, which requires insurance plans to cover mental health and addiction services, to do so to
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the same extent that they cover medical and surgical services. five years after that bill was signed into law, the administration has at long last promised to implement it and to do so by the end of the year. i expect the administration to follow through on that commitment. i also have introduced the justice and mental health collaboration act to help law enforcement officers respond to mental health crises in their communities and to improve access to mental health treatment for people who end up in the criminal justice system. this is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that i've been working on since last year well before the tragedy in newtown. and in january, i introduced the mental health in schools act, which will improve children's access to mental health services because catching these issues at
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an early age is really important. i met with some mothers from the mountain view school district in -- in minnesota about this. their children's lives and their own lives, their family's lives were changed for the better because the kids got access to mental health care that they needed at an early age. my bill has 17 cosponsors and key provisions have been included in a package that recently was reported out of the help committee, and i look forward to considering on the senate floor soon. i urge my colleagues to support this legislation. these are important measures but let me be absolutely clear. the last thing we need to do is to stigmatize mental illness. i've said this many times before and i'll say it again because it
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bears repeating and it's very important to me. the vast majority of people with mental illness are no more violent than the general population, and, in fact, they are more frequently the victims of violence than others are. there is a very small subset of those with serious mental illnesses who may become more violent if they are not diagnosed and treated. and that's the one place where this issue of mental health intersecretaries with the issue -- intersecretaries with the issue of violence. improving access to mental health care really in the main is all about improving people's lives, people with mental illness, their families, making them happier, more productive people. but today we are talking about gun violence prevention legislation. people have strongly held views
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on both sides or all sides of this issue. that's true in minnesota. it's true throughout the country. minnesota has a proud tradition, like indiana, of responsible gun ownership. we are home to many sportsmen and sportswomen. generations of minnesotans have learned to hunt pheasants and deer and ducks from their parents, their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors. we cherish our traditions and our second amendment right to bear arms for collection, protection and for sport. minnesota has both urban areas and rural areas. it is home to moms and dads, of course, and to teachers and law enforcement officers and health care providers, too. we have members of the national rifle association and members of the brady campaign against gun
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violence. so after the shooting at sandy hook, i reached out to my constituents. i got on the phone. i traveled across the state. i co convened round-tables. i talked with hunters, school officials, law enforcement officers and mental health experts. i wanted to hear minnesotans' ideas, their hopes, their concerns, their thoughts because it was important and is important to me to approach this in a deliberative way. now, here's what i took away from these conversations. minnesotans want us to take action to reduce gun violence and to make our communities safer but they want us to do it in a way that honors the second amendment and respects minnesota's culture of responsible gun ownership. there's a balance to be struck here. the overwhelming majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens
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who responsibly use their guns for recreation and self-protection. their concerns should not be dismissed or trivialized, their rights should not be undermined because of the horrible acts of just a few. so i'd suggest that our goal here should be to take whatever steps we can to reduce gun violence and improve public safety without unduly burdening law-abiding, responsible gun owners. i believe that's what the safe communities, safe schools act, the manchin-toomey amendment and the assault weapons ban do. first, we need to improve the nation's background check system and we need to strengthen our laws to combat straw purchases and gun trafficking. this was one of the key recommendations that i've taken away from my meetings with law enforcement leeght leaders in minnesota.
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and i think background checks, it's a simple, single-most important thing that we can do to save lives. today, background checks are required only when a gun is sold by a federally licensed dealer. the background checks are used to determine whether a perspective buyer has a felony conviction, is a fugitive from the law, has a restraining order against him, or has a serious mental illness. the problem is that people who can't pass a background check can simply go to a gun show or go on the internet or to the classified ads to get a gun instead, and that's exactly what they do. by some estimates, about 40% of all gun transactions are processed without a background check. this is like having two lines at the airport, one where people go through the security screening
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and one where they don't. and the passenger gets to choose which line they stand in. would you fee feel comfortable a plane if you knew that 40% of the passengers didn't go through security check and they were the ones who didn't chose not to go through the security check? the manchin-toomey amendment will expand background checks to gun shows and other commercial transactions. these checks are not an undue burden. they typically can be conducted in a manner of minutes through niccs, the national instant criminal background check system. and it excludes private transactions, like when a minnesotan hands a gun down to
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her son or daughter. the manchin-toomey amendment fixes another problem, too. we all know that background checks are only as good as the database they use. the problem is that today, a lot of states aren't submitting court documents and other records to nics, so the amendment will provide new incentives and penalties to make sure that states do a better job. this law will work. since we started administering instant background checks, more than 1.7 million felons, fugitives, domestic abusers and people with serious mental illnesses have been denied access to firearms. and that's under the system that exists today, with all of its loopholes and all of its flaws. and we've seen that women are less likely to be killed by an intimate partner in states that have expanded their own background check systems. and, look, about 90% of
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americans want us to pass this measure. 90%. this is not a republican idea. this is not a democratic idea. it's just a good idea. i think it would be a remarkable failure of our democracy if we can't get this done. and if we can't, i'm afraid it's because we've relied on fears and falsehoods instead of on facts. for instance, some have argued that an expanded background check system will result in a federal gun registry. but federal gun registries are banned under existing law, and the legislation that we are considering would not repeal or weaken that. in fact, the manchin-toomey amendment would strengthen the current prohibition on federal gun registries. the other argument we've heard is that we shouldn't bother improving the background check system until we do a better job
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prosecuting those who cheat the background check system under current law. but there's really no reason that we can't do both. enforce and improve the law. in fact, that's exactly what the legislation does. it expands the background check system and it strengthens penalties for straw purchasers and gun traffickers. so i strongly support these proposed improvements to the background check system and to our gun trafficking laws. mr. president, the judiciary committee also reported senator feinstein's assault weapons ban to the floor. the bill would ban the future manufacture of large-capacity magazines and certain weapons with military-style characteristics. this bill will not require anyone to forfeit a gun that he or she already has. we've seen the damage that
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assault weapons or large-capacity magazines can do at newtown, tucson, aurora and elsewhere. here's what milwaukee police chief edwin -- i'm sorry -- edward flinn said about the assault weapons -- said about assault weapons at a recent judiciary committee hearing. quote -- " assault weapons are built into flict violence against humans. their military characteristics are not merely cosmetic in n.i.h. these weapons -- nature. these weapons are designed for combat. they are designed to quickly, easily, and efficiently cause lethal wounds to humansen -- quote -- ." and we're not just talking about mass shootings here. for instance, studies suggest large-capacity magazines may be used in up to a quarter of all gun crimes and 41% of police
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murders. i believe that the assault weapons ban will make our communities safer without unduly interfering with the rights of responsible gun owners. i think the bill strikes an appropriate balance. others disagree and i respect their views, but there are a few arguments that have been advanced against the assault weapons ban that i would like to address here. the first argument we've heard against senator feinstein's bill is that justice department studies have proved that the assault weapons ban was ineffective. during our first hearing, a witness said -- quote -- "independent studies including a study from the clinton justice department proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime" -- end quote. and others including my colleagues repeated this claim.
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well, i went back and looked at the studies. what they actually say and they say it over and over again, is that it was premature to draw definitive conclusions about the ban's effectiveness. here's what they said. "it is premature to make definitive assessments of the ban's impact on gun violence pmplets the effects of the assault weapon and large capacity magazine ban have yet to be fully realized. therefore we recommend continued study. the expiration could effect gunshot but predictions are tenuous. and i could go on and on. the reports repeat this time and time again. if anything the justice department report suggests a ban would be effective. for example, they say -- quote -- "it could conceivably prevent hundreds of gunshot victimizations annually and produce notable cost savings in
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medical care" -- end quote. it is simply not possible to read those studies and honestly say that they proved that an assault weapons ban is ineffective. another argument we've heard against senator feinstein's bill is that it will undermine's one's ability to defend oneself. the record contains no evidence of a real case in which someone actually needed a large-capacity magazine or assault weapon for self-defense. during our first hearing, a witness submitted many examples where guns were used in self-defense but i've not seen any evidence that any one of those cases actually involved a weapon that would be banned under senator feinstein's bill. at our last markup one of my colleagues submitted additional cases for the record but after reviewing that list, i'm not
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persuaded that an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine was needed for self-defense in any of those instances. rather than presenting real case in which someone actually needed an assault weapon, or a large-capacity magazine to defend oneself, opponents instead asked us repeatedly to imagine hypothetical situations where these weapons were needed in self-defense. and sure, i can imagine hypothetical cases, but i'm not sure what value that holds because i also can imagine someone using a large-capacity magazine or an assault weapon to massacre people in an elementary school. or a movie theater. or a supermarket parking lot. i can imagine these things because they really happened. that is the reality. and it's really -- it's reality
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that we should be talking about. i asked philadelphia mayor michael nutter, the president of the u.s. conference of mayors about this, and he said -- quote -- "this idea that these weapons are for self-defense is based on our experience completely absurd"-- unquote. the final argument i'd like to address is one of the most important. some have argued a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity mation magazines is unconstitutional. the problem with the argument is that it typically rests on the premise that the second amendment is absolute or unlimited. for example, during our committee markup, one of my colleagues asked senator feinstein whether she would -- quote -- "consider it constitutional for congress to specify that the first amendment shall apply only to the
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following books and shall not apply to the books that congress has deemed outside the protection of the bill of rights" -- end quote. the point that my colleague was trying to make, i think, is that banning certain guns is like banning certain speech and this would not ban would violate the continuing constitution. this line of argument assumes the second amendment is absolute and unlimited, that any new gun law necessarily is unconstitutional. but you don't have to be a constitutional scholar to know that rights are not unlimited. in fact, my colleague's question actually makes that very point. there are books that are not protected by the first amendment. the bill of rights does not protect libel. the bill of rights does not protect child pornography.
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you cannot yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater where there is no fire. and likewise, the second amendment does not protect the rights of everyone to carry whatever weapon he likes in anyplace he wishes for whatever purpose he desires. the second amendment does not entitle felons or people with serious mental illnesses to carry guns. it does not entitle americans to own a fully automatic machine gun. or a bazooka or to bear nuclear arms. here's what justice antonin scalia said in the heller decision. "like most rights, the rights secured by the second amendment is not unlimited. the right is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever, and for whatever purpose. end quote.
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senator durbin chaired a hearing on this issue in february. i was persuaded by professor lawrence tribe's testimony. he examined the legislation and said -- quote -- "i'm convinced that nothing under discussion in the senate judiciary committee represents a threat to the constitution or even comes close to violating the second amendment"-- unquote. and remember, professor tribe has supported gun rights, he argued for an individual right, individual's right to bear arms many years before the heller decision. i was also persuaded by the d.c. circuit court of appeal's analysis in heller, too. there, the court examined the district of columbia's assault weapons ban by asking a series of questions. first, to what extent does this law burden an individual's right to bear arms for lawful purposes. second, how does that burden compare with the public's
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interest in implementing the ban? finally, is the ban sufficiently well tailored to that public interest? this is the sort of inquiry that is typical in constitutional cases, and i think it's appropriate in the second amendment context, too. it's nuanced and principled, not absolutist. the constitutional question is not whether a law touches upon second amendment interests at all, the question is whether the law unduly burdens those interests. whether it strikes an appropriate balance between the second amendment interest at stake and the public interest in its safety. we don't have to choose between the second amendment and saving lives. that's a false choice. the heller 2 court concluded correctly that the district of columbia's loss -- law, their assault ban, struck an acceptable balance and upheld
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district of columbia's bans on large-capacitying magazines. every court considering laws banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines has upheld those laws as constitutional. i am confident senator feinstein's bill will be upheld in the courts as well. you know, when my colleague began drawing comparisons to the first amendment, i was reminded of what justice potter stewart famously said of obscenity. i know it when i see it. the debate on this issue changed the day that gunman massacred 20 little children and six educators with an assault weapon and large-capacity magazines at an elementary school in newtown. that was an obscenity.
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americans knew it when they saw it. mr. president, i hope that we'll continue to debate these issues in the days ahead. debate is important, especially when people feel so strongly on both sides of this issue. i respect those who hold different views and i would hope that they would respect mine. and as we debate this issue, i hope we keep in mind what gabby giffords, maya and sam mamim and neil heslin told us during our committee hearings. gabby gifford was shot in the ahead in the massacre in tucson in 2010. six people died that day. the youngest among them was -- it was 2011, i'm sorry. six people died that day, youngest among them christina
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taylor-green, a 9-year-old girl who loved to dance and who very well may have followed in gabby's footsteps. she had just been elected to the student council at her elementary school and she had taken an interest in public service at a young age. that's why she was visiting her congresswoman. christina taylor was killed with a 13th bullet fired that day. christina taylor-green is not with us anymore, but by some miracle gabby is, and gabby has used this second lease on life to be a voice for people like christina. gabby mustered every bit of energy she could to appear before the judiciary committee in january. let's not forget what she said. which was this: "speaking is difficult but i must say something important. violence is a big problem. too many children are dying. too many children.
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we must do something. it will be hard but the time is now. you must act. be bold. be courageous. americans are counting on you. mia and sam rahim asked us to take action, too. they lost their father, ruven when a gunman opened fire at a sign factory in minneapolis in september. ruven is an immigrant from israel and lived the american dream. he started a company that employed dozens of people over the years and exported products to the rest of the world, even to china, something ruven was always eager to tell people. and ruven was proud of his patented method for making braille signs which obviously help the blind. that was his thing, helping people. he was active in my synagogue
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and in his community, and he'll always be remembered for his generous spirit. mia and sam gave me a letter in january, a few weeks after sandy hook and a few months after the mass shooting that took their father's life and others. this is what the letter said. "while congress cannot prevent every death from gun violence, it has a moral obligation to attempt to save as many lives as possible. by passing this legislation, congress can prevent some americans from receiving the call that is dreaded most, that that are their father or mother or brother or sister, spouse, or child will not be coming home. i want my story told so that other families will not have to go through the devastation that mine has been through.
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and then there is neil hesning. he came to washington to testify before the judiciary committee at a hearing a few -- a few weeks ago. neil told us about the morning of the shooting at sandy hook when his son jesse was killed. on the way to school that morning, neil and jesse stopped at the deli to get breakfast. neil got coffee. jesse got what he called coffee, which was really hot chocolate. that part of the story really stayed with me. it's a small detail, but it's just a pure detail. it says something about an innocent child that looks up to his dad. neil was in a good mood. christmas was around the corner. he had plans to make gingerbread houses with jesse and jesse's classmates that afternoon. talking to neil, you kind of got the sense that he was just as excited about this as his kids
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were, maybe more so. he really cherished his time together. after they had their coffees, neil dropped jesse off at school. it was 9:04 a.m. neil told us this -- jesse gave me a hug and a kiss and he said goodbye, i love you. then he stopped and he said i love mom, too. that was the last i saw of jesse. now, neil is not a political guy. in fact, he told us half -- this is a quote -- half the time i think it doesn't matter which group of you guys runs things out there, no offense. but he continued, and i quote -- "let me tell you when you're sitting at a firehouse and it's 1:00 in the morning and you're hoping against hope that your son is hiding somewhere in that school, you want any, any change that makes it one bit more likely that you'll see your boy again." for me, that is really what this
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is about, to make any change that will make it one bit more likely that the next jesse will live. to make gingerbread houses at christmas. to see so many innocent lives lost on that december morning, so many hopes and dreams dashed, so many families grieving, the country was heartbroken, my wife and i were heartbroken. and we are still. i wish that we could offer more than our thoughts and our players and the thoughts and prayers of our fellow minnesotans. we can't turn back time. we can't bring back the lives we have lost. but if there is something we can do today in this chamber, this week in this chamber to save
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lives in our communities tomorrow, to make it more likely that boy will be coming out of the school, then i think we should do it. thank you, mr. president, and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. mr. president, i would ask that the quorum be -- quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: i ask the consent for debate only be extended until 8:30 p.m. and that at 8:30 p.m., the majority leader be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. and now i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that it be in order for the manchin-toomey amendment and rule 715 be set aside. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. reid: we are. one of those rare occasions. i ask consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that it be in order for the manchin-toomey amendment number 715 be set aside, the following amendments in order be called up. grassley substitute amendment consistent with the summary which is at the desk, leahy-collins 713 trafficking, cornyn 719 concealed carry, feinstein 711 assault weapons,
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clip bans, veterans guns. that's number 720. lautenberg-blumenthal 714 high-capacity clip band, barrasso 717 privacy, and harkin-alexander relative mental health, the text of which is at the desk. following leader remarks on wednesday, april 17, the time until 4:00 p.m. be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees to debate the amendments concurrently. at 4:00 p.m., the senate proceed to vote in relation to the manchin amendment 715. upon disposition of the manchin amendment, the senate proceed to votes in relation to the remaining pending amendments in the order listed that all amendments be subject to a 60-vote affirmative threshold, no other amendments be in order, the motion to commit be in order, any of these amendments with the bill prior to the votes with two minutes equally divided prior to each vote, all after the first vote be ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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